Galloglass were mercenary warriors who fought in Ireland between the mid 13th and early 17th centuries. Originally of Scottish origin, they retained an emotional connection to Scotland even though most of them were eventually Irish. Generally fighting as axe men, the galloglass fought in the endless wars between the Irish lords, and both for and against the English in Ireland, before eventually disappearing soon after the Stuart dynasty came to the throne in England.
The book is well illustrated. Most contemporary images of galloglass come from sculptures on graves, although there are also some drawings and illustrations, mostly from the sixteenth century, although some are earlier. These depictions of the galloglass are supported by a series of pictures of archaeological finds, most impressively of the massive galloglass axe-head, and by the usual high quality Osprey artwork.
This book has something of a melancholy tone - the galloglass inhabited a violent and often fragile world, which came to a sudden end at the start of the seventeenth century. Even in their heyday they were a mixed blessing for the Irish, taking part in more battles between Irish lords than against the English, and often living at the expense of their employer's peasants.
Cannan has used an interesting range of sources, including some unusual Irish sources (amongst them the evocatively titled 'Annals of the Four Masters'), to paint an involving picture of these often violent men and their warlike world.
Training and Selection
Conditions of Service
The Galloglass Experience of Battle
Ethos and Motivation
Places to Visit
Author: Fergus Cannan